After three years in court, the criminal case against Brian Patch came to an end on May 9, when the 39-year-old pro skater pled guilty to unlawful sex with a person under 16, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office. Court documents confirmed that he was sentenced to 60 days in jail and 10 years formal probation. Patch must also register as a sex offender for 10 years.
Patch, a five-time X Games medalist in Skateboard Street, Park and Vert Doubles, once set a Guinness World record for longest air on a skateboard in 2001.
The punishment stems from the night of April 10, 2008, when Patch, 35 at the time, allegedly had sex with a 15-year-old acquaintance who had recently run away from home and ended up at Patch's Westminster residence. According to articles in the Orange County Register, the girl's father picked her up the next morning. Two weeks later, Patch was arrested by Westminster, Calif. police.
"[The alleged victim's] father was the entire impetus behind her going to the police," Patch's co-council Howard Williams told ESPN.
Patch was charged with two felony counts of a lewd act upon a child age 14 or 15, charges that could have landed him in prison and required him to register as a sex offender for life.
As the prospect of a jury trial drew closer, those charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement with the Orange County District Attorney's office. In a telephone interview, Deputy District Attorney Nicole Nicholson said that Patch wanted to avoid registering as a sex offender for the rest of his life, which would have been mandatory with a felony conviction.
On the eve of trial, attorneys on both sides agreed to "have him plea to a different count [statutory rape], that doesn't require mandatory lifetime registration," Nicholson continued. "But [my office] felt that it was appropriate to have him register for at least ten years."
"We're happy that those unwarranted charges were dismissed in the interest of justice," said Patch's co-council Gary Labin, adding, "With a plea deal, you know exactly what you're getting. With a jury trial, you never know what's going to happen."
In a prepared statement sent via email, Patch wrote, "There is a Supreme Court judicial opinion that states: 'There is not an easier charge made and a more difficult to disprove.' To keep my friends, family, and alleged victim from suffering any further, when faced with this dilemma and presented a deal offered by the D.A., I had to take it."
Nevertheless, Patch's team said they were prepared for trial. According to Labin, Patch's case was mishandled from the start by one of the officers, who's now being held on unrelated charges of kidnapping and rape. "And I can't speak for the prosecution," he added, "but it certainly doesn't help their case when the alleged victim is yelling at the judge, 'He's not guilty!' She told the court that her father had threatened her if she didn't [point the finger at Patch]. "
"We deal with recanting victims all the time," explained Nicholson. "A few years earlier, [she] testified truthfully and consistently with the evidence."
During sentencing on May 9, Superior Court Judge James A. Statelier ordered Patch to turn himself in on May 23. He'll serve at the Theo Lacy Facility, a jail complex across the street from The Vans skateboard park at The Block at Orange.